How to bake wheat free, gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free cake

For a moist and tasty vegan-friendly, wheat free, gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free (cake free!) cake try this recipe courtesy of Doves Farm.

125g/5oz sugar
6tbs sunflower oil
1tbs vanilla extract
Half a ripe banana
150g/6oz Gluten Free Self-Raising Flour from Doves Farm
4tbs water
1tsp oil for greasing
2tbs jam or fruit spread
1tsp icing sugar

Oven 190c/Fan 170c/Gas 5

1. Lightly oil an 18cm/7" round cake tin or line with greaseproof paper.

2. Beat together the sugar, sunflower oil and vanilla extract.

3. Mash the banana and add to mixture.

4. Add the flour and water and mix well.

5. Dollop mixture in to prepared cake tin and smooth the surface with a wet knife.

6. Bake in a preheated oven for 35 minutes.

7. Remove from tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

8. Slice horizontally through the centre with a bread knife.

9. Spread one half with jam or fruit spread (if you want to keep the sugar content down - St.
Dalfour ones are delicious) and place the other half on top.

10. Sieve a light dusting of icing sugar over the top.

11. Enjoy!

My lovely friend Jan very kindly made this for me (my diet's wheat and dairy free) and I think even she was surprised at how good it tasted. It's a fairly solid cake but it doesn't have the dry, crumbly texture of a lot of gluten free baking. It was very moist and very moreish!

I would post a photo but the cake wasn't around long enough for me to get my camera out. Or maybe I was just too busy enjoying it to think of much else.

Do you have a favourite 'free from' recipe - or a good tip for anyone with a restricted diet? All contributions gratefully received! 

How to get rid of a cold with store cupboard remedies

Want to know how to treat the common cold with natural remedies made from store cupboard ingredients?

Here's how to -
  • make a remedy for sore throats that really works
  • clear a blocked nose quickly and easily
  • reduce cold symptoms with store cupboard staples
I don't know about you but for me one of the first signs of a cold is a sore throat. That faint but distinctive sensation as I swallow lets me know that all is not well and it's time to take action. I know that if I react quickly enough with my tried and tested sore throat cure it'll be gone within a day; if not sooner.

One of the best sore throat remedies I know of couldn't be simpler.

It only uses two ingredients that are always available -  
salt and water

My belief, when it comes to acute conditions such as sore throats and colds, is that it's better to help the body fight the symptoms with something natural than suppressing them with medication so I tend to raid the kitchen store cupboard for a natural remedy whenever I can.

As soon as you feel a sore throat coming on dissolve about half a teaspoonful of salt in, perhaps, a third of a cup of water; I usually boil the kettle. (Sorry I'm a bit vague about quantities because it doesn't seem to make much difference). Wait till the solution has cooled to body temperature. You can check it by dipping a finger in. If it feels too hot it probably is so wait a bit longer.

Then all you do is gargle. Best to do this over the bathroom sink rather than the kitchen sink - for obvious reasons! Just hold the solution in the back of your throat, gargle and spit. This is one of the most effective gargles for sore throats that you can get. You can make it any time and use as often as you think you need to. Just be sure that you don't swallow any of the solution.

Gargling with salt water should not only cure a sore throat but stop a cold developing any further. Whenever I've used this technique it has worked, pretty much straight away, but it is important to do it as soon as you feel the symptom coming on. The quicker you act, the better.

Clear a blocked nose

Well, the same salt solution can be used to relieve nasal congestion. This is slightly trickier. You need to lean over the sink and, whilst holding one nostril closed with a finger (although if your really bunged up that may not be necessary) tip your head slightly to one side and inhale the solution.

I admit it's really not pleasant but then neither are the symptoms of a cold. But this is so effective at unblocking noses that I can even get my, less than biddable, children to do it because they know just how much better they'll feel afterward.

The solution should ease the congestion or reduce the dripping if it's a runny nose that's the problem. Just make sure that you spit out whatever runs in to your mouth.

Boost your immune system 

After using the salt solution to treat your sore throat or blocked nose be sure and drink plenty of water. And I recommend a high does of Vitamin C. You may not have this in your kitchen cupboard but it is great to have on stand-by. You should find Vitamin C in doses of up to 1000 mg. This is a therapeutic dose that will help boost your immune system and so help your body to fight the cold symptoms. Zinc is good too and often comes combined with Vitamin C.

 Brew up a natural remedy to fight infection

Well, this natural cold remedy is even less pleasant than snorting salt water but - it works! So why not try it and see for yourself? It's easiest to use a caffetiere but you could just strain it afterward.

Use whatever you have to hand of the following: garlic, ginger, lemon, chili, honey (Manuka if you have it). Once again there aren't any measurements but I would go easy on the chili, especially if you suffer from any digestive problems, in which case you may want to leave it out. I definitely wouldn't use it if you have an ulcer. Also please note that I wouldn't recommend this natural cold remedy for anyone that's of a delicate disposition or who has problems with blood pressure.

Just chop up the ingredients, pour on boiling water and leave to stand whilst you summon up the courage to drink it. You don't need to take big gulps just sips will do. Garlic is antibiotic and antibacterial and it's excellent at loosening mucous (better out than in!), lemon is high in antioxidants such as Vitamin C which boost immunity and ginger and chili are included because they are so warming for the body and an increase in body temperature can be all that's needed to kill off the bacteria that's present.

Children develop a fever for this reason. It's the body's way of fighting off infection. We tend to lose that ability in adulthood but having a hot bath or drinking this very warming concoction can promote a safe increase in body temperature and have the same effect.

Do you have any tried and tested natural remedies to reduce cold symptoms? 
I'd love to hear them. Feel free to post a comment!